It felt like the Falcons signed more one-year deals than any other organization this offseason. The pandemic’s effect on salaries and Atlanta’s roster configuration is why it made sense to find a bevy of affordable veterans to round out the roster before the NFL draft. The only multi-year deal given out this offseason was to Mike Davis, while there are over 20 players on one-year deals that I believe have a good chance at making the final 53-man roster.
Dante Fowler, Hayden Hurst, Lee Smith, Cordarrelle Patterson, A.J. McCarron, Brandon Copeland, Tajae Sharpe, Jaeden Graham, Deadrin Senat, and Olamide Zaccheaus, and Erik Harris are all either on one-year deals or in the final year of their current contract. Regardless, the Falcons will likely not bring any of the aforementioned 2022 free agents back next offseason.
The final year of Fowler’s contract was voided, giving me the feeling the new regime isn’t likely to let him stick around. Hurst’s fifth-year option wasn’t picked up, which would’ve paid him a conservative figure for what he’ll bring to Arthur Smith’s offense. Smith, McCarron, Sharpe, and Graham will play insignificant roles in 2021, so I’d be extremely shocked if they were brought back next offseason. Patterson and Harris are both aging veterans but provide valuable leadership; either way, I doubt they return next year.
Steven Means, Josh Andrews, Isaiah Oliver, Matt Gono, and Jacob Tuioti-Mariner are all going to be brought back if they impress in 2021. Means could establish himself along the defensive line; Andrews could solidify the left guard position; Oliver could show great improvement if he’s limited to playing nickel; Gono is a wild card given his undisclosed injury, and JTM’s special teams value makes him a candidate to receive a new contract.
Younghoe Koo, Foyesade Oluokun, and Russell Gage are the only locks I believe to be warranted with a new contract next offseason. Koo plays an extremely important position, and once you find a reliable kicker, smart general managers never let them go. Foye and Gage are less likely, given Deion Jones and Calvin Ridley are/will take up considerable cap space, but I still think the new regime brings back those pieces.
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